Told in elegant visuals featuring a desaturated palette that draws on traditional

VENICE, Italy, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) — Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou said on Friday he used real objects to achieve the desaturated effect in Ying (Shadow), his new martial arts film that premiered Thursday at the Venice Film Festival.

Set in feudal China, Ying tells the story of one of the “shadow” men who impersonated kings and commanders in times of danger.

Zhang told Xinhua in an interview that he had the idea for this movie when he saw seminal Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s 1980 film Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior), about a petty criminal who gets hired to become the double of a samurai warlord.

Told in elegant visuals featuring a desaturated palette that draws on traditional Chinese ink brush painting and the yin-and-yang symbol, Zhang’s film alternates exquisitely composed and designed interior scenes with spectacular battle sequences in perennially rain-drenched exteriors — in which umbrellas are turned into weapons.

“The use of the umbrellas was my personal creation, but they are based on the yin and yang concept in Chinese esthetics,” the acclaimed director said.

“When you have a strong, tough power you must counteract it with soft power, so yin energy overcomes yang energy,” he explained. “The umbrella becomes very shiny and slippery in the rain, so the concept is: discharging the force of the enemy.”

As far as the drained color palette of the film, Zhang explained that he eschewed computer-generated effects in favor of set design, building complex structures in specifically colored materials, and using rain-making machines.

“These days you can do a lot on the computer, for example, change a color film into a black and white one,” he said.

“Instead, I decided to use real objects to achieve the desaturated effect: everything on the set, every prop, costume and weapon, had to be black, white or a combination of the two.”

“Of course there were not enough rainy days, so we set up a special team in charge of making rain,” said the director, who worked on the screenplay for three and a half years and shot the movie in three and a half months, using a crew of “500-600 people” that included 15 stuntmen.

“We had machines with different-sized spouts to obtain the kind of rain we wanted for each scene — big drops, small drops, drizzling drops,” he said.

“We shot under this water constantly, so the actors were always drenched.”

The interplay between masculine and feminine, yin and yang, is a strong theme in his movie, and Zhang said that the younger female character played by 21-year-old supporting actress Guan Xiaotong “represents contemporary young Chinese women who live in the big cities — a kind of headstrong and non-conformist girl who doesn’t want to accept adults’ standards.”

“I like this character because she is different from the others, who are all struggling for power and survival,” Zhang said.

“She is not struggling for power, but for respect — that’s why she decides to engage in battle. She represents young people’s desire for independence and freedom.”

Asked what would be his advice to young filmmakers today, Zhang said: “I would tell them to insist on their own style and their own ideas, to find good stories, develop their characters, and maintain their peculiarities.”

The Venice Film Festival, now in its 75th edition, ends on Sept. 8.



The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will perform German composer Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana

SHANGHAI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — Deutsche Grammophon and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday announced a plan to hold a classical music concert in Beijing’s Imperial Ancestral Temple next month.

Clemens Trautmann, president of Deutsche Grammophon, said he believes the concert and its recordings will help build bridges between the two different cultures.

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will perform German composer Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, directed by Chinese conductor Yu Long. Internationally renowned pianist Daniil Trifonov will join the concert by playing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2.

Built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Imperial Ancestral Temple is now home to the Beijing Working People’s Cultural Palace. Multiple cultural activities have taken place there, including art exhibitions and solo concerts.

Before arriving in Beijing on Oct. 10, the concert will be previewed in Shanghai.



“The organisation went very well…I find that both the Brasov residents and the tourists

BUCHAREST, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — The Golden Stag Festival, the largest music festival in Romania, ended late Sunday in Brasov of central Romania, with Albania’s Inis Neziri winning the Grand Trophy of 25,000 euros.

The festival, also one of the most famous international music festivals in Central and Eastern Europe, was resumed in the Brasov Council Square after a nine-year break, as part of the events financed by the central government and dedicated to the Greater Union Centennial of Romania.

The first Golden Stag Festival was held in 1968. There have been 17 editions before the 2018 edition, as the festival has been put on pause and resumed several times over the years.

“The organisation went very well…I find that both the Brasov residents and the tourists were pleased by this event, that has unfolded in very good conditions…We are certain that in the future we shall have better and better results,” the Brasov County Council’s President Adrian Vestea was quoted as saying by official Agerpres news agency.

“I hope this event is a new beginning…I believe we did a good job together,” said the Mayor of Brasov George Scripcaru, who hoped that the festival will take place in the years to come.

Eighteen contestants from 15 countries competed in the five-day festival that has two main components: an international contest and guest performances by both Romanian and foreign stars.